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Andy Zaltzman's 2016 - The Certifiable History

19/12/2016 16:48

2016. A year that will go down in history. As indeed do all years. 2016, however, will be splatted into the history books in luminous, angry, confusing paint. 'Experts' (if they still exist and are still legal) will still be attempting to decipher the splodges in 1000 years' time.

Whilst some may remember 2016 as the year in which England lost to Bangladesh in a Test match for the first time, or the year when momentum unstoppably swung towards replacing God Save The Queen as the UK's national anthem with a solemn recitation of an episode of The Great British Bake Off, others will focus on the twin democratic hyperspasms of Brexit and Trump.

Even in 3016, the evidence for and against the benefits of Brexit will still be trickling in. Every upward or downward shift in the stock markets, unemployment figures and exchange rates will still be hailed as conclusive proof that Brexit was and/or wasn't good and/or bad for Britain. We may never truly know.

What will confuse the occupants of the future will be the sense that Britain took its most momentous political decision without working out - in advance - exactly what that decision would implicate, reminiscent of when Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins hopped into the cockpit of Apollo 11, and were told by NASA ground control: "Just aim it at the big round white thing and take it from there. If you need us, we'll be in the pub."

There were good and bad, factual and fictional arguments on both sides, some of which were barked at a louder volume than others. Truth, that outdated relic of a pre-internet world, was pensioned off to the same secret dungeon-laboratory where they keep to last remnants of smallpox. The result emerged on that dramatic night of 23rd June, just hours before England took on Sri Lanka in a one-day international at Edgbaston. The People Of Britain had spoken. And what they had said was: "We're not entirely sure. It's a close call." By a small margin, we had chosen the high-risk option of leaving the EU, over the medium-to-high-risk option of staying in the EU.

George Osborne looked as if he had bitten into his daily breakfast kitten, and discovered that the kitten had been replaced with a lemon. And that the lemon was full of fox excrement. Boris Johnson looked as if he had planted a whoopee cushion full of rancid custard on David Cameron's chair as a prank, and then inadvertently sat on it himself. Michael Gove wore the satisfied grin of someone who had happily shot off one of his own testicles, and seen the bullet ricochet as planned into some else's nutsack.

The end result - Theresa May as a new compromise Caesar, an alleged Remainer who had campaigned with the fervent ferocity of a three-day old portion of battered haddock. Mrs May immediately showed her respect for democracy by having absolutely no discernible Brexit plan. Britain had voted in full knowledge that there was no plan. No-one had offered a plan before 23 June. The Prime Minister had a duty to respect the lack of plan that we chose as a nation.

Democracy shifted across the Atlantic for November's American showdown, which chundered out another surprise upheaval, just as England's cricketers took the field for the first Test against India in Rajkot. Once again, The People had spoken. And what they had said this time was: "We're also not entirely sure. We have a slight preference for Hillary, but in a geographically awkward way."

Thus, Donald Trump, a walking textbook of unelectability, crossed what proved to be a surprisingly fine line between rage-fomenting gropey creepster and President Elect. He defied the polls, the odds, precedent, convention, logic, and sense, as the disenfranchised masses of middle America voted for the living embodiment of everything they were angry about. One small step for a megalomaniac tycoon, one giant lurch to the right for mankind.

Other events have, no doubt, happened in 2016. Islamic State retained their title as World's Most Tediously Violent Minority Interest Pressure Group. Politicians continued to brazenly ignore the obvious solution to the defining issue of the era, the global migration crisis - changing the entire nature of the human psyche so that people no longer want to move from somewhere bad to somewhere less bad.

Above all, however, 2016 will be remembered as the year when Democracy, in contemporary parlance, 'got its strop on'. As the great Roman warrior-philosopher Maximus Decimus Meridius might have said, "What we vote in 2016, echoes in eternity." Fingers crossed.

Andy Zaltzman will be performing his review of the year, 2016: The Certifiable History, at the Soho Theatre from 20th December to 7th January. From 2nd February he will be touring nationwide with his brand new stand-up show Plan Z. See andyzaltzman.co.uk for tickets. You can also find Andy's recently relaunched satirical podcast The Bugle at thebuglepodcast.com, and his new DVD, Satirist For Hire, at gofasterstripe.com.

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